"We have children that come on Monday morning that are very hungry. Very pale. Oftentimes more sick. Unable to stay awake, pay attention in class, because theyve gotten inadequate food over the weekend. We see them putting it in their little pockets or the sleeves of their coats and putting it in their backpack to take home. Its heartbreaking," Director of Nursing Teresa Crandall said.
Not having enough food is more common than not in the district. In Marshall ISD there are approximately 5700 students. Of those, nearly 60 percent have been identified as "food insecure."
"Theyre parents work hard to try to feed them but they do rely on the school for their source of nutrition," Deputy Superintendent Melinda Jones said.
The Marshall optimist Club is teaming up with the district for a new "backpack" program. This is how it will work: identified kids will be given a backpack every Friday filled with food items like milk, fresh fruit and crackers. The goal is to get them enough food to make it through the weekend.
The program will kick off after Christmas Break at Carver Elementary School. Eventually it will spread district-wide. The cost will be $150 per child per year, but will come free to families. The expense will be paid for by grants and donations.
"We want this to be a grass-roots, community-wide effort," Sam Fogle with The Optimist Club said.
Educators say while they may not be able to solve all problems, this program should at least help to solve one.
"Were not here to judge them. Were just here to give them an extra hand," Crandall said.
If you are a Marshall parent and would like to sign your child up for the "backback" program, applications are now available. Call or go by the administration office on Pinecrest Dr. Donations are also welcome.